Scholarships and Prizes

M.A.K. Halliday Scholarship

The M.A.K. Scholarship is offered annually and awards recipient $1000 towards a research project in Applied Linguistics. Applicants must be members of ALAA and have current student status or have recently completed postgraduate studies. The application will be judged on the quality of the research project. Requests for support to attend conferences or to buy major pieces of equipment will not normally be funded through this scholarship.

Applicants need to submit:

  • A two-page research proposal, including a statement of how the funds will be spent
  • A curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages)
  • Two brief referees' reports/letters of support

The due date is two months before the annual conference, and the recipient will be announced at the AGM.

Please address the application to M.A.K. Halliday Scholarship Committee and submit via:

Dr Colette Mrowa-Hopkins (Secretary, ALAA) at

Michael Clyne Prize for research thesis on immigrant bilingualism and language contact

The annual Michael Clyne Prize has been established for the best postgraduate research thesis in the area of immigrant bilingualism and language contact. The Prize up to $1500 is jointly administered by ALAA and ALS (Australian Linguistic Society).  

  • Prize to be awarded to an MA (research) or PhD thesis examined (or passed by examiners) in the previous year that focuses on some aspect of immigrant bilingualism and language contact. The thesis should have been submitted at an Australian university
  • Submissions are generally due in March or April each year. Submissions should include: (i) a copy of examiners' reports; (ii) a 300-500 word summary of the thesis and its main findings; (iii) a supporting letter from the supervisor. Recipient will be notified of the outcome by the end of May
  • The award is a $1000 plus contribution of up to $500 to cover costs (e.g. travel, accommodation, conference registration) for the recipient to attend either ALS or ALAA (their choice) to present a paper on their research
  • The recipient will have a guaranteed slot in the conference of their choosing (i.e. either ALS or ALAA in the year of the award)
  • Award to be announced at the AGMs of each society.

Details of the Prize, including eligibility requirements, timeline and submission process, are here: Michael Clyne Prize 


ALAA Travel Scholarships

ALAA is pleased to announce that 5 travel scholarships (up to $800 each) are available for research students who are ALAA members and who plan to present at the forthcoming ALANZ & ALAA conference . The scholarships are to be used for travel, accommodation and registration expenses.

Applications will be judged against the following criteria:

  • the research project’s potential contribution to knowledge (is it innovative/cutting edge/relevant?)
  • the clarity and precision of the description of the research
  • the extent of progress in the research
  • the degree of support expressed in the referee’s letter

Preference will be given to doctoral candidates, but research students at Honours and Masters levels are also encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be notified by in due course. For further information, please email Dr Colette Mrowa-Hopkins (Secretary, ALAA) at .

Penny Mckay Memorial Fund

2014 Award Winners

The Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA) and the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) are delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 Penny McKay Memorial Award for Best Thesis in Language Education. Their Executive Committees have accepted the Selection Committee’s recommendation that there be two recipients of the inaugural award due to the outstanding quality of both submissions.

The winners are:

  • Susan Creagh “A Foucauldian and Quantitative Analysis of NAPLaN, the category 'Language Background Other Than English' and English as a Second Language Level” (thesis at presented the University of Queensland).
  • Julia Rothwell “Let's eat the captain! Thinking, feeling, doing: Intercultural language learning through process drama". (thesis presented at the Queensland University of Technology).

A formal announcement of the winners and a certificate presentation will take place at the 2014 ACTA conference, at the beginning of the Penny McKay Memorial Plenary Lecture, to be given by Professor Chris Davison at 8.45am on Wednesday, 1 October in room 105/6.

Penny Mckay (1948 – 2009)

As a teacher, consultant, researcher, keynote speaker and professional activist, Penny McKay was a leader in language education in Australia and internationally. Working collaboratively with educators and researchers in schools, she pioneered an approach to assessing learners' development in English as an additional language.

Penny was committed to four fundamental principles:

  • First, assessment frameworks should be tied to empirical, classroom-based observations of English language learners of different ages and backgrounds.
  • Second, those frameworks should respect and respond to classroom teachers' understandings of and insights into their learners.
  • Third, frameworks must be informed by theory as it continually develops.
  • Finally, they must be designed to support learners' language development and to inform teachers in their teaching.

Penny died prematurely in 2009 from ovarian cancer. She is greatly mourned by Australian and overseas language educators.


Penny McKay Award for Best Thesis in Language Education

The Penny McKay Memorial Award honours Penny’s contribution to research and development in second/additional language education.

The Award is for an outstanding doctoral thesis which benefits the teaching and learning of second/additional languages in Australian schools, including Indigenous languages, community languages, foreign languages, Standard Australian English as an additional language or variety, and English as a foreign language.

The Award is jointly offered by the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) and the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), and administered by ALAA.

The 2014 Award consists of $500, a certificate and free conference registration at the 2014 ACTA conference (30 Sept – 3 Oct, Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre). The winner will be offered a slot to present a paper on an aspect of their research at that conference.

The winner will be announced at the AGM of each Association and the 2014 Award will be presented at the 2014 ACTA conference. The winner’s name and the 500 word summary of their thesis will be published in each Association’s journal (ALAA – The Australian Review of Applied Linguistics; ACTA – TESOL in Context). The names of winners in every year will be shown on the website of each Association.

Donating to the Award

The Award was established from donations from individuals, professional associations and other institutions in Australia and overseas, and from the sale of Penny’s extensive professional library. These funds are invested securely as agreed by the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) and the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA) according to the normal procedures governing such funds.

Your help is needed to maintain this Award which carries forward Penny’s lifelong commitment to language education that is grounded in both research and the insights of practising teachers.

To donate to the maintenance of this Award, please click here for further details. The Online Registration for the 2014 ACTA Conference also includes an option to donate to the fund.

Eligibility for the Award

The Award is awarded annually for a doctoral thesis submitted at an Australian university and passed in the preceding academic year. To be eligible for consideration, the thesis should be focussed on aspects of school-based second/additional language education, such as language development, curriculum, teaching or assessment. The applicant must be a paid-up member of either ALAA or their State/Territory ACTA affiliate.

Applying for the Award

Applications for the Award will be called in April each year. Applications for the 2014 award are due by 5 pm EST 30 May 2014 to the ACTA Secretary.

Applications should include:

(i) a short summary of the thesis outlining the background, methodology, findings and contributions of the study (max. 500 words),

(ii) a copy of all examiners’ reports,

(iii) a letter of support from one the applicant’s supervisors.

Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their applications by early July 2014.

Please Download an Application form.

How Applications Are Evaluated

(1) Procedures

Applications will be assessed by a panel of three, being the Presidents of ALAA and ACTA (or a suitable representative as nominated by the President of each Association), and a recognised academic expert in the area of second/additional language education agreed on by the two Presidents.

The President of each Association will present the name and details of each year’s winner to the Association’s Executive Committee for ratification and approval that the winner be notified and the Award be awarded (as per above).

The Award may not be awarded in a given year if the panel judges that none of the applications are at a suitable standard.

(2) Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be judged in light of advances the research makes to theoretical, empirical and/or methodological knowledge about second/additional language education.

The precise criteria will be published on the Associations’ websites at the time of calling for applications and will be reviewed on an on-going basis each year by that year’s panel.

Please click here for the criteria to be used in judging applications in 2014.


Information about the Award will be shown on the website of each Association.

Further enquiries about the award may be directed to the Secretaries of either ALAA or ACTA.

More about Penny McKay

Penny’s approach to teaching:

All of us approach teaching in different ways. For me, teaching has been, from the beginning, an iterative activity – working with students, teachers and researchers to search for, try out and disseminate effective teaching practices. I’ve always sought to observe, ask questions, and find patterns in how English and other languages are learned and taught. My life as a language consultant and researcher has been a stimulating journey of workshops, drafts and feedback seminars with students and colleagues. My colleagues’ questions about what is happening and being trialled in their classrooms has been an invaluable contribution to my work. We have become successful as language educators by working collaboratively and sharing our knowledge and skills like this.

Penny McKay, 15th February 2009

A co-researcher describing Penny’s approach to classroom research (interview with Helen Moore, 30 January 1997):

Penny was wonderful. ... We’d get into the classroom and we’d say, ‘And then this should happen and this should happen’. But she’d keep asking us, ‘What does happen?’ ‘What is happening there?’ ‘What is development?’

To read more about Penny McKay:

Dooley, Karen and Moore, Helen. 'Penny Mckay 1948-2009: A Leader in English Language Education', TESOL in Context, Vol. 19 Issue 2 (Dec 2009) 50-66.